When the Demons Lost Respect

Sometimes individuals, teams, and organisations get ahead of themselves.

Geelong used to be accused of that. Players were big fish in a small pond. Win, lose or draw, they were feted. Success at the highest level was always dreamed of, but having a team in the VFL/AFL was good enough in Sleepy Hollow. The fact the Cats played like millionaires – free wheeling, exciting but unaccountable football – made us feel good about ourselves; gave us a point of difference, and made us feel a little less insecure about being the “poor cousins”. Being a member of that team ensured hero status.

The Melbourne Football Club is the new “Sleepy Hollow”; full of players who are celebrities before their time; full of “superstars” who have not yet earned that title. That’s the world we live in today; Twitter, Facebook, and the media has made the world a much smaller place and as a result, has given AFL players a pedestal to stand on whether deserved or not. Not a week goes by without mention of the quality of Melbourne’s list and the blinding light that is their future. It is without doubt that the players feel the warmth of that light. I’m only guessing, but I imagine they bask in it.

There is no doubt Geelong has greater experience than Melbourne. There is no doubt Geelong, courtesy of that experience, is able to play at a level much closer to its potential than does Melbourne. There is no doubt Geelong is currently impossible to beat on its home ground.  And there is no doubt Geelong was expected to win comfortably.

Thirty one goals is beyond comfortable. Thirty one goals is beyond a difference in experience. Thirty one goals is about attitude.

The Melbourne players on Saturday showed no respect; not for themselves, not for their team, not for their opposition, not for their Club, not for their supporters, not for their coach, not for the game. The performance was not inept. “Inept” suggests they competed, but did so poorly. This performance was soul-less.

I love this “new” Geelong; the one that Frank Costa, Brian Cook and Mark Thompson began building 12 years ago. They have respect. It’s what “Bomber” wanted. It’s what he kept telling the players. Have respect for yourselves, your opposition, and for the game.

If there is one team and one group of players in the League that has the right to be arrogant, and disrespectful, it is the Geelong team. A dozen All-Australians, two Norm Smith medallists, a Brownlow medallist, two Premierships, and the greatest win/loss ratio of any team in history over a sustained period suggests that they have earned it.

But they play with respect. There is little chest beating. Trash-talk is kept to a minimum. There are no over-exuberant celebrations with the crowd whenever a goal is scored. Instead, they celebrate as a team, they make a bee-line for the catalyst of the goal, and they set up matter-of-factly for the next play. There is no gloating when an opponent is on the mat. If losing, they fight to the end.

The Geelong players, despite their records, were nervous and unsure about their individual positions when Chris Scott took over spoke volumes about the players.

No matter what they’ve done in the past or what the future promises, they know it guarantees nothing.

Thankfully, the individuals, the team, and the organisation from the old Sleepy Hollow have learnt, at least for now, not to get ahead of themselves.



  1. Great report! An absolute pleasure to read.

    I love that you pointed out that Geelong is not over-exuberant in its goal celebrations. It’s certainly something that stood out on the weekend. Especially early on, before the blow out, the first thing players did was not fist-pump or scream “YEAH!”, they pointed out the goal-assister with an appreciative gesture. The most OTT displays were when Mooney got a goal, and that was not arrogance – that was a team embracing a much loved player, a barometer, The Big Hair Beloved Cat, and welcoming him back into the fold.

  2. John Welch says:

    great report Peter, we at the Cattery have been the butt of comments from ill-informed and discontented oppo supporters as an arrogant bunch, players and supporters alike. We certainly have earned the right over recent years, but I have never seen any evidence to suggest that the purging of 44 years of promise and heartbreak morphed into arrogance at any level. The Pusswha can be proud of the way it conducts itself as a club and player group, win, lose or draw.
    Melbourne however has much to be criticised. Inferences that they played for draft picks is unfortunately going to be a likely outcome for those heading towards the Timber trophy. But Melbourne proves that great lists do not absolve the club of bigger issues. To sack the coach is to blame the coach….what part did the players have last Saturday? That hard second effort, the gutbusting chase to man up when turned over, the willingness to make a contest at every disputed ball, the pride in the club, the pride in the jumper. Each player carries that obligation, in areas that the coach on game day cannot do himself. If responsibility and obligation and pride were words used in the sheds at Kardy post game, then not just the coach would be given the White Diamond!!

  3. Thanks Susie and John.

    Now that Gazza is not playing this Saturday, I will never know, but I was hoping that respect would extend to Cats fans this Saturday, and I’m sure it would have. I’m probably going over the top here, but I would have been on my feeting clapping him; the return of a favourite “Sun”. (Hey, that’s not a bad title for an article!).

    It would have been terrific to see Gazza go around.

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